LONDON • Manchester City were left seething on Thursday after their £60 million (S$105.2 million) bid to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal collapsed.
After frantic negotiations, City finally admitted defeat in their bid to sign the forward in the final few hours of deadline day despite agreeing a fee for the Chilean, who was also angry at Arsenal's refusal to let him leave.
In another blow for manager Pep Guardiola, City's attempt to sign Jonny Evans, the West Brom defender, also ended in failure.
Arsenal accepted City's second bid for Sanchez, worth £55 million plus £5 million in additional fees, on Thursday morning. But the London club insisted that they would not sanction the sale of their star unless they could bring in Monaco winger Thomas Lemar as a replacement.
Despite having a club-record £90 million bid for Lemar accepted later that day, Arsenal soon abandoned their attempt to sign the 21-year-old, claiming that there was not enough time to complete the transfer as City had left it too late to bid for Sanchez.
That claim drew a bemused response from officials at the Etihad Stadium. It was also suggested in France that Lemar did not want to join Arsenal and favoured a move to Liverpool or Barcelona.
City sources claim that they first told Arsenal of their desire to sign Sanchez in May and repeated their inquiry several times over the next three months.
Club record fee Arsenal agreed to pay Monaco for Thomas Lemar, who was to be a replacement for Alexis Sanchez.
City added that Arsenal told them throughout the summer that Sanchez was not for sale at any price, but their stance is thought to have softened in recent weeks after it became clear that the 28-year-old wanted to leave.
Despite eventually admitting that they would have to let Sanchez go, Arsenal's failure to sign Lemar meant they had no option but to keep the player because their attacking options would have been severely depleted and their supporters, already angry after a poor start to the season, would have become even more enraged.
Arsenal dismissed City's claim that the Gunners had left it too late to move for Lemar, saying that they had been trying to sign the winger all summer.
They put the blame for the collapse of the Sanchez deal on City by saying that their first bid of £50 million for the former Barcelona player was not lodged until Tuesday night.
Guardiola is said to be disappointed at losing out on Sanchez, but acknowledges that the club had already spent almost £220 million on five new first-team players this summer.
It is likely that Guardiola will consider making another move for Sanchez in January or when his contract expires next June.
Manager Arsene Wenger has kept his pledge to retain Sanchez, but introducing the striker back into his Arsenal squad after the international break will be difficult given that he already had his heart set on a move to City.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN